The Diocese of New Ulm will pay $34 million to at least 93 victims of clergy abuse.
A Minnesota diocese has agreed to pay $34 million to dozens of people who claim to have been abused by Catholic priests and volunteers.
Attorney Jeff Anderson, representing many of the 93 alleged victims, said the settlement includes $8 million directly from the diocese and its umbrella parishes. The remainder of the money will be put up by the church’s insurance carriers.
According to the Associated Press, the agreement—while finalized by plaintiffs’ attorneys and the Diocese of New Ulm—must still be approved by a bankruptcy court. If approved, abuse victims will take a vote on whether they support the award. Claims will later be gauged and weighed to determine how much money each survivor will receive.
Anderson, adds the A.P., credits the plaintiffs with advancing the children protection movement and ensuring that predators won’t victimize another generation.
“This is a big day for the survivors,” Anderson said in a statement.
New Ulm’s bishop, John LeVoir, said the church’s decision to back the settlement suggests a commitment to making survivors whole while continuing to minister in southern and central Minnesota.
“I hope and pray that today’s settlement helps victims and survivors on their healing journey,” LeVoir said.
In his own statement, Bishop LeVoir also praised survivors for their courage and apologized for the diocese’s past inaction.
“I am deeply grateful for victims and survivors who courageously came forward to raise awareness about clergy sexual abuse and to work to assure others will not have to suffer the wounds they sustained and the pain they endured,” LeVoir said. “Victims and survivors are owed just compensation for the harm they have suffered by those they entrusted in serving them.
“Their coming forward to share their stories and seek justice from the church that failed them took great courage,” he continued. “I again apologize to them on behalf of the church.”
The Diocese of New Ulm, notes the Associated Press, is among several Roman Catholic dioceses in Minnesota that have filed for bankruptcy following abuse allegations. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis recently ‘emerged’ from bankruptcy, following a $210 million settlement and a series of pay-outs to other abuse victims.
New Ulm made its own move toward bankruptcy in 2017. As part of its protection proceedings, the diocese agreed to release the names of priests who’d been ‘credibly’ accused of child sex abuse.
LeVoir noted that much of New Ulm’s pay-out was funded by Catholic church-goers themselves.
“The settlement is funded through insurance coverage, cash and property contribution from all parishes within the diocese. Cash and property contribution toward the settlement is only possible because of the generosity of local Catholics,” he said. “I am grateful to those parishes that contributed even though they were not facing claims themselves. Parish leaders did this because they recognized reaching a fair settlement for those harmed was important and necessary.”